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Pride 101: your questions answered

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July 9-15 is “Pride Week” in Rainy River District and Koochiching County. This week marks the first time our region will come together to recognize and affirm that the diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is a positive contribution to our communities, workplaces, and schools.

We know many of you have questions—which is normal for your first Pride! Borderland Pride is here to help. Below, we provided answers to some that might be top of mind:

  • What does LGBTQ2 stand for?

LGBTQ2 stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit. We use this acronym to refer to the range of orientations and identities that make up the “gay community.”

Some organizations may use shorter or longer versions of the acronym but they generally always mean to be all-encompassing.

Sometimes an 'A' is added to the end of the acronym to refer to the “allies” of LGBTQ2 people—people who are not LGBTQ2 but support and care about their causes and well-being in society.

One of the goals of Pride is to engage new allies in the community. This helps to show the support of the wider community for LGBTQ2 people who may be struggling with their gender identity or sexual orientation.

We hope that through “Pride Week,” we will come to know that more of you identify as allies.

  • What is Pride supposed to accomplish?

Pride helps to undo years of marginalization and discrimination against LGBTQ2 people by positively showing our community's sense of inclusion. It is about underscoring equality and building safe spaces.

In doing so, Pride enables people—and particularly young people—to make healthy and safe choices about their relationships, coming out, or simply openly expressing their identity in the same way heterosexual people may take for granted.

For instance, recent surveys have found that many LGBTQ2 couples do not feel safe holding hands in public or displaying photos of their spouse or family at work.

In larger centres, Pride has morphed into somewhat of a cultural celebration—in the spirit of “Oktoberfest" or "Caribana.” But in smaller centres, the primary goal is community outreach, education, and to give area organizations an opportunity to showcase their sense of LGBTQ2 inclusion.

  • What's the deal with Pride parades?

Pride emerged out of protest. Pride parades and marches in cities around the world have evolved from political rallies and demonstrations to advocate for LGBTQ2 rights and to speak out against violence and oppression of LGBTQ2 people.

Sadly, in some places, Pride continues to be an act of protest.

It is common today, in most places in North America, for leaders at all levels of government to participate in Pride parades and other events to show their support for the LGBTQ2 community and our values of equality.

Borderland Pride's “Passport to Pride” march will take place this Saturday (July 14) starting at 10 a.m. and leaving from Smokey Bear Park in International Falls.

  • Gay people can get married now so why are they still fighting for equality?

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Canada since 2005 but other strides continue to be made. For instance, the right to include the names of both same-sex parents on a newborn's birth documentation (2006), the right of adoptive same-sex parents to be declared a child's parent (2007), and the right of a same-sex partner of a deceased Canada Pension Plan contributor to enjoy retroactive benefits (2007).

Moreover, religious organizations may not discriminate against LGBTQ2 persons in employment unless sexual orientation is a bone fide occupational requirement (2010), public marriage commissioners cannot refuse to marry same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs (2011), and trans people need not have surgery in order to change their sex designation on birth certificates (2012).

LGBTQ2 people are conscious of the fact that rights can slide backwards, too. Some are concerned the recent vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court may pave the way for the court to overturn significant advances in LGBTQ2 rights.

That court only recently legalized same-sex marriage, in 2015.

Pride reminds us to remain vigilant—for ourselves and other equity-seeking groups.

  • Do gay people want “extra” rights?

No. LGBTQ2 people want the same rights as everyone else to live their lives in dignity and safety, and be treated equally without discrimination. That is partly what Pride is about: recognizing the historic (and ongoing) opposition and injustice that LGBTQ2 people face, both here in North America and abroad.

Celebrating Pride isn't about putting gay people on a pedestal but about levelling the playing field.

  • I'm not gay. Can I still attend Pride events?

Absolutely. All of Borderland Pride's events are open to everyone and all ages. If you have questions about any of the events, or what to expect, you can send an e-mail to borderlandpride@gmail.com or call or text 1-807-861-3684.

You can find the full event listing on our website at www.borderlandpride.org

  • What is drag?

In general, a “drag queen” is a person who dresses in hyper-feminized or gender non-conforming clothing, and often acts with exaggerated femininity and in feminine gender roles for the purpose of entertainment.

Some people do drag for self-expression, whereas others may enjoy the performance medium. Drag can be a creative outlet, a means of self-exploration, and a way to make cultural statements—all elements which are linked inextricably with gay culture and history.

While the general public may be most familiar with the “high drag” of professional performance artists (think RuPaul's Drag Race), drag also is part of regular life for many gender non-conforming or gender-variant people, who may or may not consider what they do to be drag.

We are pleased to welcome three drag performers to Fort Frances: Prairie Sky, Pharaoh Moans, and Cake. They will be taking part in our reception this Friday (July 13) at 8 p.m. at From the Grind Up and in Drag Queen Story Time at the Fort Frances Public Library on Sunday (July 15) at 1:30 p.m.

  • I am struggling with sexual orientation or gender identity issues. Where can I find support?

We recognize that confiding in a local resource can be difficult in a small town. On our website at www.borderlandpride.org, we have provided links to a number of support resources and organizations for both LGBTQ2 people and their families or loved ones.

The LGBT Youth Line also offers a confidential, non-judgmental, informed LGBTQ2 help line that can be contacted by phone (1-800-268-9688), text (647-694-4275), and online chat (youthline.ca).

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